What is a Diaphragm?

A diaphragm is a birth control device consisting of a small reusable cup made of silicone or rubber.  It fits inside the vagina and covers the tip of the cervix to prevent the sperm from meeting an egg.

How to use a Diaphragm?

The diaphragm is used with spermicide (specific for diaphragm use), a gel that kills sperm, making it unable to fertilize an egg. You will need to insert the diaphragm into your vagina ideally up to two hours before having sex and keep it in place for at least six hours afterwards. Never keep it for longer than 24 hours inside the vagina to avoid the risk of Toxic Shock Syndrome or other infections/irritation. First time users should consult their health care provider for assistance with using it correctly.

To remove the diaphragm from your vagina, hook your finger over the rim and gently pull down and out of your vagina.

Make sure you check your diaphragm regularly for cracks and holes. Make it a point to replace the diaphragm approximately every two years.

Typical use of a diaphragm is approximately 88% effective at preventing pregnancy.

Advantages and Disadvantages

Advantages of the diaphragm include:

  • Does not need to be in place when not having sex
  • Little or no side effects
  • Protection against pregnancy
  • Reusability

Disadvantages of the diaphragm include:

  • No protection against sexually transmitted infection or STIs
  • Can be difficult to insert and remove
  • May cause vaginal irritation
  • Chance of bladder infection
  • Toxic shock syndrome, a serious bacterial infection, if left in too long
  • ACOG
  • AIUM
  • American Association of Gynecologic Laparoscopists
  • NYU langone Medical center
  • American Association for Accreditation of Ambulatory Surgery Facilities
  • UpToDate